Beyond the classroom: mentorship that prepares for the real world

Seungbin Kang

4 minute read

Every year, participating students from The Australian National University (ANU) College of Business and Economics (CBE) benefit from the mentorship initiative Momentum.

Momentum pairs students with industry mentors who help them to navigate the transition from university to work life. Student mentees and their mentors also attend professional-development workshops run by CBE, with guest speakers from industry.

Amber Chen, a second-year student at CBE, took part in Momentum in Semester 1, 2023 as a mentee.

“Momentum is a wonderful opportunity to interact with experts in your field of interest,” she says.

Amber was mentored by Adina Leu, Director of APS Workforce Strategy and Planning, and spoke glowingly of the guidance she received.

Adina was amazing – incredibly supportive and full of valuable insights. She not only provided a glimpse into the professional world, but also helped me become more strategic about my career decisions and progression.

During her participation in Momentum, Amber began work in her role as International Labour Force Policy Officer at the Australian Public Service (APS) Commission.

In this interview, Amber reflects in detail on her time with Momentum, and how her mentor and the workshops equipped her to succeed in her current role.

Q. How has participation in Momentum assisted in helping you to feel comfortable in your new role as an International Labour Force Policy Officer at the APS Commission?

Momentum was pivotal in my transition to this role. It equipped me with soft skills and helped me to gain confidence when networking, communicating, and collaborating with industry experts – something that is crucial in my current position. Through the guidance of the workshops, as well as my dedicated mentor, I gained a greater understanding of the policy roles available for economists in the APS, which provided me with a clearer vision and direction for my career goals. This deeper understanding, coupled with the practical skills honed through Momentum, has been instrumental in my day-to-day responsibilities. I find myself better equipped to work with team members and contribute meaningfully to the APS Commission's objectives.

Q. What was your favourite Momentum workshop, and why?

All the workshops were incredibly insightful, but a favourite was the Communication workshop. The speaker emphasised that true communication mastery lies in the ability to tailor one's message and communication style to the audience's preferences and needs, ultimately making them more compelling and persuasive. The workshop also highlighted the best ways to communicate in multicultural settings, which is especially important in my current role.

This was complemented by the Teamwork workshop, which highlighted the diverse array of personality types and their impact on workplace dynamics. It provided guidance on how to harmoniously collaborate with team members whose temperaments may differ from one's own. This experience fostered in me a newfound openness, shedding light on the significance of seemingly minor gestures in ensuring the well-being of diverse personality types. The key to getting the most out of the workshops is to bring the content, questions, and insights from the workshops to your mentoring meetings to discuss, gain a deeper understanding, and place them in the context of a professional work environment.

Q. How would you compare your skills before doing Momentum, to how they’d developed by the end of the initiative?

Momentum played an instrumental role in refining and elevating my soft skills. Initially, while I was confident in my technical abilities, I lacked assurance in my soft skills and the knowledge of how to develop them. One of the standout features of Momentum was its ability to provide structured frameworks for previously intangible concepts like personal branding, teamwork skills, and leadership. This demystified these vital components, and also equipped me with concrete strategies and techniques applicable to my professional journey. For example, our Personal Brand workshop not only enhanced my understanding of personal branding but also provided me with a framework to shape my own distinctive personal brand.

My networking ability also drastically improved over the course of Momentum. I remember feeling extremely unsure of how to act at the beginning, yet by the closing event I felt more confident thanks to the consistent practice throughout the initiative.

Q. Why would you recommend Momentum to CBE students?

Momentum creates a dynamic space for networking, and fostering meaningful connections with both industry professionals and fellow peers. These relationships are invaluable, not only for personal growth but also for expanding your professional network. My mentor’s knowledge and experience were enlightening, supporting the skills I was developing in the workshops.

Momentum significantly enhanced my soft skills, something which was not emphasized in my regular university classes. Momentum is an exceptional opportunity for CBE students to gain invaluable industry exposure, establish meaningful connections, and elevate their employability skills. It's a transformative experience that equips you with the tools to thrive in your chosen field.


Applications to be a mentee or mentor for Momentum in Semester 1, 2024 close Monday 30 October. Click here to find out more and apply.

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs. Click here for more details.